Alberta cooking up support for local agriculture and food
Province seeks public input to develop local food policies
By Kate Ayers
The province of Alberta is looking to build its local food industry and is asking the public for feedback on proposed legislation.
The government has proposed the following legislative provisions:
- Establishing a definition of local food (i.e. “food grown, made and/or harvested in Alberta and then marketed in Alberta”)
- Creating a Local Food Week to increase consumer awareness and celebrate the local food industry
- Enhancing food safety training requirements for approved farmers market managers and vendors
- Applying existing federal organic product regulations and organic certification requirements to organic products produced and market within Alberta
Anyone interested in providing input on these provisions can leave comments here by Jan. 19. The government will use this information to help develop local food legislation, other local food strategic policy documents and/or a local food framework.
“Local food has become a very important sector in agriculture, so we are looking at what we can do to further support and grow this industry,” Oneil Carlier, Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture, said in an Edmonton Journal article on Tuesday.
“It’s time to switch the lens on how we view farming,” Susan Roberts, director of Alberta Food Matters, said in the article.
“We need to think locally, then talk about exports.”
The largest barrier for young farmers entering the ag industry is access to land and capital, according to Dana Penrice from the Young Agrarians group. Addressing these issues would help newcomers.
Some regions have land-matching programs that match new farmerswith available land, according to the article.
New legislation in the local food industry has the potential to enhance coordination between the health, education, and ag ministries. For example, implementing local food programs in schools would be one possibility, Kayla Atkey, policy analyst for the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention, said to the Edmonton Journal.
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